Face to face | Life, life, 20 years later

Face to face |  Life, life, 20 years later

Since January 20, ICI ARTV rebroadcasts the 39 episodes of the three seasons of Life, life, who has just turned 20, with two episodes every Wednesday (7 p.m.). The opportunity to see Simon (Patrick Labbé), Marie (Julie McClemens), Vincent (Normand Daneau), Claire (Macha Limonchik) and Jacques (Vincent Graton), facing the vagaries of their thirties. A look back at this cult series with its screenwriter, Stéphane Bourguignon (All on me, Fatale-Station).

Marc Cassivi (M. C.): I realized that you were the very first interviewee in my Face-to-Face interviews 15 years ago.

Stéphane Bourguignon (S. B.): It is true ? What did we talk about?

M. C .: We had talked about TV! You told me that at the time, for you, television was still entertainment while cinema was an art. Has your opinion changed on this in the last 15 years?

SB: Yes ! Television has taken on a bit of the torch, not necessarily experimentation, but a certain way of doing things that was reserved for cinema.

M. C .: Television dares to approach topics that are said to be more difficult. Risk-taking is perhaps more in TV series than in movies, right now …

SB: Aesthetically too, TV has evolved a lot. It is no longer comparable to what it was 15 years ago. There are series that are visually extraordinary. There are budgets that we didn’t see at the time, like [celui de] The Crown, which costs something like 10 million per episode! And then the television offer is incredible. There are shows from so many countries.

I still listen to movies. I really like cinema. But in TV, there is a lot more quality than before.

Stéphane Bourguignon, author and screenwriter

M. C .: Talk about budget. In Quebec, we cannot say that we have followed the global trend. Series episodes often have less budget, in constant dollars, than 20 years ago, right?

SB: I’m not in the best position to tell you about this, but I do believe that budgets have stagnated in the last decade. By working, we know that we have these constraints. We must not kid ourselves, of course we do not tell the same stories. Of course, we don’t do it with as much panache as we could. Money in filming is time. How long are we going to have to shoot a scene? It influences everything. If you compress time, you also compress everyone’s creative space. I live with an actress and I think those who pay the most for these cuts are the actors. They come last in the filming process, when the sound and lighting have been set, and they have 10 minutes to play the scene or, on richer productions, an hour or two. They have all the pressure to deliver their text quickly so that it fits into the schedule.

M. C .: Despite everything, we continue to make good TV …

SB: Of course, we can continue to tell good stories, we can be effective, we can be funny, we can be dramatic, we can even be exported! I’m not sure what the average audience is looking for they see the difference in those hundreds of thousands of dollars that we miss per episode. But for the more seasoned observers, or who are looking for a more aesthetic experience, it is sure that we see the difference.

M. C .: I wanted to talk to you about Life, life because it’s his 20e anniversary. Twenty years, for you, is it the day before yesterday or has it been a long time?

SB: I never saw the series again!

It’s kind of like when I look at my 27 year old son. He is so big, he has so much life that even though he’s my son, he’s no longer my child. He’s a guy I know very well, because I raised him among other things [rires]. Life, life, that’s it for me.

Stéphane Bourguignon, author and screenwriter

The fact that it’s still alive, it makes me very happy and it enchants me. And for me, and for everyone who worked on it, and for the public. It’s something that unites us and moves us when a birthday arrives. I find it very fun, but it doesn’t belong to me anymore. It belongs to everyone, and it’s perfect like that.

M. C .: If you happened to stumble upon an episode, would you have the curiosity to listen to it, or you don’t want to see the show again because you’re worried about finding that it has aged badly in some ways?

SB: Of course, I sometimes have a little curiosity. My writing has changed, I think. I’m currently working on a project – which I can’t tell you about -, and I was curious to see how I managed to dramatically deploy certain scenes from Life, life. I thought about it, you know. I can see myself on the couch with the remote control in my hands and the DVD nearby, hesitating. I decided not to watch it! My memory of the series is very internal. It is a very strong moment in my life. There was a correlation between my private life, my professional life, what I wrote. It corresponded to what we were all doing together. It allowed me, as it was my first series and as I was going on an adventure into the unknown, to work with a really rich, precious and rare feeling. I know it’s not a perfect show and that I would wince at some lines I wrote …

M. C .: You prefer to keep the memory of the creation and the shooting intact …

SB: Yes, and also the joy and the incredible response from the people. All of this is important to me. Because I know there are things that I would rather people not see [rires] !

M. C .: Do you understand the resonance that this series still has, 20 years later? It was the first Quebec series in which many people of my generation felt they recognized themselves realistically.

SB: I accept it, but sometimes I am a little surprised. There are things about this series that are beyond me. I think the show had an aesthetic form that was very pleasant, in the sense that we found in the cinema processes that we did not see at the time on Quebec TV.

M. C .: It marked a break for many people with our parents’ TV. There was a modernity, both in aesthetics and in the themes addressed.

SB: In the way of telling it was different. I came from elsewhere. I came from the novel. I hadn’t been fed Quebec TV, and it was the same for [le réalisateur] Patrice Sauvé.

We had never done traditional fiction. It allowed us to arrive with a certain breeze of freshness, as we did not know what we were doing! That’s the beauty of the thing that doesn’t happen twice in your life.

Stéphane Bourguignon, author and screenwriter

You are not weighed down by the past, by the structures conveyed before you. You are free. I also knew that with my first novel [L’avaleur de sable]. It allows people to receive what you offer with new enthusiasm. Because the gesture is so spontaneous and ingenuous, innocent, but determined. At the same time a candor and a big thirst. It makes for a seductive mix for people.

M. C .: Would you have the same report to this series if you had not known other successes thereafter?

SB: I am lucky to have had The swallower of sand and Life, life early in my career. We, the creators, are very doubtful. It’s good to have had success to reassure yourself, to sit down and calm down, telling yourself that you are able to write correct things! But there is always a trap in that, which is to remain prisoner of this first success. It forced me to do very different things afterwards. A comedy without emotion like All on me, then a very dark novel. It was my way of reclaiming my freedom. I didn’t want to write feeling like I had 800,000 spectators on my shoulders asking myself, “Are you sure? »After Life, life, there was a backlash. It took me a while to do something else because I was constantly being brought back to this.

M. C .: Even 20 years later, Stéphane! [Rires]

SB: Yes ! Let go of me with this! [Rires] I decided to stop the show because I couldn’t see how I could write 13 more episodes. I felt like I had said everything. Looking back, I’m not sure about that anymore. It was above all that the pressure had become too great, that the expectations were high and that I did not want to go and spoil it all with too much season. I preferred people to be bored of it, and that’s what happened!

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